Planning next year

Finishing up the year (just ended second round of plan builder, because…no events) and going to take a week or two off, then start back, and thinking about how to structure next year. For context, this was about my fourth year of structured training, second on TR. Would have been 4th year racing (though still cat 4), if there had been any. I’m 50, work 50+ hrs/wk. Currently FTP 285 at 74 kg, just below the magic 4 w/kg.

Here’s the thing: I’ve basically been stagnant/declining since I started TR. I started at 300 in Nov 2019, hung around there through the spring, dropped a lot of structure for outdoor, messed around with some polarized, slipped to 291 after break at the end of last year, got back to 300 after SSBI, followed plan builder pretty well this year (my outdoor rides were structured to mimic prescribed sessions), but haven’t seen 300 since. I also feel like like I totally lost my “top end” until just recently finishing speciality. I felt tired and burned out a lot in SSBII and build phases.

So, looking ahead, not too excited to just run PB again. Thinking about following options:
a) traditional base +/- a single VO2 weekly session (á la Friel who recommends keeping VO2 for older athletes)
b) Run PB low volume and supplement with more Z1-2 (I find the Wed Pettit type to sap my legs at the prescribed power, but ok if I turn it down 5-10%)
c) go strictly Polarized, but how does this periodize across the year?
d) do something like Fascat plans, but again, concerned about no VO2 work for a few months
e) just go on feel. I wasn’t any slower when I did this in the past

Interested in people’s experiences/opinions

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Have you thought of your priorities? You’ve mentioned potential burnout so why don’t you refocus for a few months and enjoy some mental downtime?

Have you tried some zwift races?

I’m already looking at options for next Autumn/Winter as I’m considering continuing with the structured training through the summer as I lost significant mental resilience when I stopped structured training in Spring this year.

I have an uninformed view my target event will be pushed back into next summer/ Autumn so I’ll use the time to get fitter.

As the old saying goes, how do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans!

If it’s FTP you want to increase, then don’t do e). “Feel” will lie to you. And it is an easy way to convince yourself you’ve done the intervals correctly , thinking you are maintaining the same power, when you are losing watts as you progress through the interval.
Whereas, for z1 and 2 rides most experienced bike riders can use feel as a perfectly good guide.
Probably don’t do b), as you don’t need more z1 and 2 , and Pettit is easy enough without turning the intensity down. Save that for when you really hurt, Like vo2 max.
a) sounds good, and I agree with Joe Friel on keeping some vo2 in there for older athletes (I’m one too).
c) and d) I can’t comment on, as I don’t know about those.
Also did you do HV or MV plan. And do you train indoors with a smart trainer, or outdoors with a power meter?
My experience has been a learning one with TR. It has revealed my strengths and weaknesses clearly, enabling me to improve both.
But I train mostly indoors , as I think it is more beneficial for me.
And ,yes I thought I could do sustained Power Build HV, but soon cried off, once I realized I’d bitten off way too much :rofl: :hot_face: :hot_face:
Looking ahead, I’m certain there will be events to ride next year, what with the Vaccine becoming available for most of us. So that will help motivation.


Well, somethings gotta change. About 9-10 months ago I came to the same conclusion myself. Have been unable to get back to 275+ that I achieved in 2016 and 2017, mostly going on HR/feel and loosely following Carmichael Training plans on Strava (the good plan is no longer on Strava).

I’m a bit of broken record on “fresh is faster” so I’ll try and put it differently. My base season starts on / around September 1. Last year I did TR Traditional Base 1 & 2 (with some extra weeks per plan notes), and in Nov 2019 I experimented a little with polarized (my conclusion: polarized VO2 block belongs after base).

This year my 3 month early base has seen a lot of aerobic endurance, good intensity is coming from weight lifting, and some max effort under 30-sec sprint work. There have been some intervals under 10 minutes, but very few of those so far. Just building the aerobic engine and increasing efficiency. All executed using a mix of indoor and outdoor workouts. Averaging 7.75 hours a week for the 3 months Sept-Nov.

This weekend in WKO I setup “BASE 20XX” seasons for 2016-2020, from Sept 1 thru -Nov 30 of each year. Then compared endurance power at durations of 60-min, 90-min, 2 hour, and 3 hours. What I found was interesting and exciting - my endurance power looks fantastic and all credit to my FasCat coach. Very little perceived effort over 3 months, and FINALLY managed to weave 2 hours/week of strength in with structured cycling at a decent volume level.

Absolutely no signs of burnout after 3 months of early base this year. Haven’t done any long / hard 30+ minute efforts like in previous years, and yet the power at long durations is way up. Still not back to the fitness of my first two seasons 2016 and 2017 (done first on HR/feel, and then power/feel), but clearly this approach is working and laying the foundation of a great season.

Will that approach to base - more like a and d - work for you? I dunno. After doing my first block of SSB-1 in late 2017 / early 2018 there was a gut feeling that the lack of max efforts on the trainer was not working as well as I hoped. I’ve commented about it over the last year or two. All of this just reinforces my feeling that TR long distance triathlon plan should be rebalanced as a cycling only plan - dial down the intensity and see what happens.

Like hearing how Nate did sweet spot for a year, its worth experimenting when you get stuck.


Thanks for responses.
“A” race is a UCI Gran Fondo qualifier in May (assuming it happens), 100mi, 10k+ ft climbing, though other than that, goal races are mostly crits…so totally different requirements. Though, in addition from lack of sprint, bad crit results are from generally bad racecraft, which more power is unlikely to help.

@slowmart I should clarify, I wasn’t mentally burned out, but felt physically drained by all the upper range sweet spot/threshold in SSBII – mid volume. I actually found plan builder better because it was shorter blocks, but on the other hand, I got slower. Zwift races were part of what I did prior to TR, and I credit with helping to get to that top FTP.

@Lydiagould what I call “going on feel” I mean more deciding day to day what kind of session to do. Still riding with power. I have to say, I haven’t learned anything about my riding doing TR that I didn’t already know. A couple years of being cat 4 pack fodder is a great teacher.
Appreciate your perspective on keeping the VO2. How do you program it in base season?

@bbarrera good to hear Fascat is working out for you. Interesting about the lifting. I feel limited in that regard due to too many orthopedic problems to go heavy at all, bit I could probably get VO2 intensity with bodyweight exercises/band work.

Somewhat I wonder if I’m just up against my current potential given age, prior injury history/limitations, and reasonably unchangeable life constraints (work stress/sleep/diet/time).

I wouldn’t call it vo2 intensity. The sprint intervals touch up the top end, not as much as 3-4 minute vo2 work but seriously I’m nearing sixty and could do 3-5 minute or 8-min intervals all year long but would physically and mentally burnout on that. In 2016 and 2017 going full gas on 1 minute and 4 minute efforts meant that I have a lot of 3-5 day gaps in training. Pushed my fitness higher but the physical toll wasn’t worth it.

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I’d just add one vo2 max session /week, and I wouldn’t have though that would make you tired, but just jiggle things around so the day after is either an easy day ,or a rest if you need it.
I do intensity all year round ,because I have no problem with base.Also i get bored easily, and enjoy the sprint/vo2 sessions.
I very rarely train longer that 2.5- 3 hours unless it’s summer and nice and hot. Then I take a picnic and go on my mtb for 6 hours usually in an unfamiliar area tomake it more fun.
Most people on here don’t seem to share my dislike of long rides. Perhaps it’s just i’m a grumpy ole woman :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :coffee: :coffee: :coffee: